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Wheat-Free and Beautiful

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I love food. Yet I've never been overweight. Lucky? Um. Instead of fat, I get acne. Am I lucky? Yes.

I love food. Yet I've never been overweight. Lucky? Um. Instead of fat, I get acne.

Am I lucky? Yes. Acne forced me to root my self-esteem in attributes more durable than looks, like a sense of humour! Uncovering wheat sensitivity as the primary culprit behind my acne showed me how to listen to my body's wisdom. And it helped me believe that I could be beautiful, both inside and out.

By age 25, I knew three things. One: outside, I was "ugly." Two: inside, I was beautiful because I had learned to treat people, whatever their looks, with respect. I refused to put down others who didn't look like Hollywood celebrities. Three: for my acne, conventional medicine was useless.

When puberty hit, doctors had said, "Diet has nothing to do with acne. You'll be over it in a few years." They recommended over-the-counter products and prescription drugs. Nothing worked. By sweet 16, I had stopped going to school dances. I was tired of boys staring at me, then snatching their gazes away from my face. By 18, I exercised regularly. I had stopped eating junk and deep-fried foods and ate colourful vegetables and fruits instead. I took megadoses of vitamins and herbs and used topical natural remedies with alpha-hydroxy acids. This all helped somewhat.

Then my dermatologist gave me Accutane, the capsule-sized miracle that was the last hope of desperate cases. My skin cleared up! People complimented me. A man asked me out for my first-ever date at age 20. I was saved until I went off Accutane at the recommended time 12 months later. My complexion deteriorated with a vengeance. I tried the drug three more times over the next four years. Same results. Then I began to worry about liver damage, a side-effect, so I stopped.

I was 25. The hormonal excesses of puberty were long past, but my acne could still horrify people. "What am I doing wrong?" I shrieked at the heavens one day. My sister just looked at me. Two years before, she'd suggested cutting wheat out of my diet. "I've found it helps," she'd said. Her "acne," though, was three little pimples a month. On such flimsy evidence she thought I would forsake one of the great pleasures of life? Pastries, cookies and cakes were already on my "off" list. Give up chewy bagels and twirly al dente pasta, too? "Ain't gonna happen," I had retorted.

By now, though, I had heard reports about people avoiding wheat with dramatic results. A professor's wife's chronic sinus infection had cleared up. A woman in my choir said, and looked like, her weight had melted away. Would it work for me, too?

I gave cutting out wheat a try. Health food stores provided wheat-free breads and pastas. I thought: I can be disciplined for three weeks. Can't I? It wasn't easy, but I could. Especially when I noticed after two weeks that the boils had gone. Three weeks, and the pimples had disappeared. And the miracle continued. For the first time since childhood, my face stayed smooth without drugs!

After cutting out wheat, I discovered other foods that trigger breakouts. Do I regret having to cut "regular" foods out of my diet? Am I sorry that Accutane didn't get rid of my zits? No. My diet doesn't feel restricted any more. It's more interesting now than when wheat, meat and dairy were my staples. I've noticed "side" benefits of improved eyesight, mental clarity and energy. And I've met more people who are at peace with their lifestyle choices and themselves. They're a joy to know. A successful Accutane treatment couldn't have given me any of this.

Going wheat-free showed me that for years, my body had been trying to tell me how I could help it function better. I simply hadn't been listening. I'll always have acne scars. I'm also joyful in myself and others. Am I beautiful? You bet I am!

Help for Clearer Skin

1. Use chamomile face steam and compresses to open clogged pores, then wash face with a warm, damp cotton cloth soaked in chamomile infusion for healing, or sage to disinfect.

2. Lavender vinegar is a good face cleanser. Soak flowering tips of lavender in one litre of apple cider vinegar, filter and mix one tbsp (15 ml) of this tincture with one-half cup (125 ml) water. Other astringent herbs to apply externally include comfrey, thyme and leaves of birch and blueberry.

3. Drinking aloe vera juice for two weeks can help clear up acne by cleansing internally. Take two tbsp (30 ml) three or more times daily. Aloe vera gel, along with calendula cream, make good topical healers.

4. Tea tree oil is antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial, making it a good topical treatment for many skin conditions. Dab one drop of tea tree oil on a pimple twice daily. If irritation occurs, discontinue.

5. Echinacea, goldenseal, gotu kola, Serenoa repens (an extract of saw palmetto), and homeopathic remedies such as Calcarea, Sulphur, and Magnesium are other products that, when taken internally, may benefit acne sufferers. Please consult your local natural health products advisor.

PDF Table of Natural Acne-Fighting Precription

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